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David and Dina Westheim Collection

Identifier: AR 25627

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of family letters sent from the Netherlands and Germany to New York before and after World War II. They cover the family's daily life as Jews between 1937 and 1946 in the Netherlands. One main topic is the products the family requested from the United States for sale in the Netherlands. The majority of the letters was sent during and after the war. The most outstanding document is in folder 1: the first letter the surviving family members sent to their relatives in 1945 after they emerged from hiding. The collection is arranged in 4 folders in alphabetical order.

Folder 1 contains the correspondence between Ellen Rose's family and her brothers Benno Bodo and Alfred Westheim. The correspondence began in 1945 with her first letter after hiding. Within the following year the Rose family reports about perished family members, the post-war situation in Amsterdam, food shortages and their considerations to emigrate to Palestine or the United States. Only a few comments are made about their situation while hiding in Enschede.

Folder 2 holds several letters written by Leopold Spangenthal and sent from Berlin and Kassel to Benno Bodo and Alfred in New York City in 1940 and 1941. They report about Leopold Spangenthal's business and family issues.

Folder 3 holds only one unidentified und undated letter fragment that mentions the purchase of land in the United States.

Folder 4 includes the correspondence between David, Dina, Ellen and Alice Westheim in Amsterdam and Benno Bodo and Alfred Westheim in New York City and consists of 29 letters and some post cards, dated from 1937 to 1941. Most of the letters were sent from 1940 to 1941. The folder only includes the letters that were sent from Amsterdam to New York City. The family in Amsterdam mostly describes their daily life, their business and food shortages. They requested US-American products like cigarettes, lighters, canned produce and clothes to sell them in Amsterdam. They also referred to the situation in Amsterdam for Jewish community members.


  • 1937-1946
  • Majority of material found in 1940-1941, 1945-1946


Language of Materials

The collection is in German, English, and Dutch.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:

Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011


Biographical Note

David Westheim was born May 30, 1878 in Abterode, Hessen, Germany, son of Lehmann David and Rosa Westheim. He married Dina Spangenthal born September 28, 1884 in Spangenberg, Germany, daughter of Aaron and Jeanette Schona Spangenthal. David and Dina lived in Abterode where they owned Lehmann D. Westheim Textile and Clothing Store.

David and Dina Westheim had four children: their two sons Benno (Bodo) and Alfred immigrated to the United States in 1936 and 1937. The affidavits for their visas came from a member of the Spangenthal family who had immigrated to the US in the early 1900s. David and Dina’s youngest daughter Eleonore (Ellen) moved to Amsterdam, Holland in 1936 to marry her fiancé, Fritz (Fred) Rose. Fritz had left Germany in 1933 and opened a kosher butcher shop in Amsterdam. The young couple brought both sets of parents and their 6 sisters to the Netherlands. Their daughter Esther Marianne was born May 11, 1937. David and Dina’s daughter Alice Westheim married Fritz’s business partner Siegbert Mielzynski. Their son Ralf was born January 7, 1940.

During Kristallnacht, Nov. 9, 1938, the Westheim store was looted. David Westheim was incarcerated in Buchenwald and released after three weeks. David and Dina then fled to Amsterdam and moved in with Ellen and Fritz. Alice and Siegbert also moved in, when their apartment was damaged during the German invasion. David and Dina Westheim were murdered in Sobibor April 9, 1943. Alice, Siegbert and Ralf Mielzynski were murdered in Sobibor July 9, 1943.

Ellen, Fritz and Esther Rose survived World War II in hiding in Enschede and Delden, Holland. They returned to Amsterdam after the war. During 1945 and 1946, they mainly traded with American products that Ellen’s brothers sent to Amsterdam, such as cigarettes and lighters.

Dina Westheim’s brother Leopold Spangenthal lived in Berlin before World War II. His correspondence dated in 1941 indicates that he was involved in the Spangenthal family business.


0.25 Linear Feet


The collection includes the correspondence 1937-1946 between members of the Westheim family, who lived in Amsterdam, and their two sons, Alfred and Benno Bodo Westheim, who lived in New York City.


The collection is arranged in one series in alphabetical order.

Related Material

Check the catalog to find any related material.

Processing Information

During processing of the collection in August 2015, the folders of the collection were organized into one series.

Guide to the Correspondence of David and Dina Westheim 1937-1946 AR 25627
Processed by Sabine Hanke
© 2015
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from David_and_Dina_WestheimCorrespondence.xml

Revision Statements

  • January 2016:: dao links added by Emily Andresini.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States